Thursday, 7 February 2013

Harbin the Finale

On the last leg of our trip we went to the International Ice & Snow Festival. Harbin is famous for its ice festival which consists of gigantic buildings made from blocks of ice that you can walk over and under. All of them have lights within which give it a luminous other worldly glow.

I was already half-frozen before arriving, and after standing in line for 30 minutes I was a complete goner. I was at the point where nothing interested me, since I couldn't take my mind off the fact I couldn't feel my feet, and was wondering how they kept on moving without me.

Thankfully my friends felt the same and we stopped at a beverage shop to get hot drinks. Because I didn't want to pay an outrageous sum for hot chocolate, I ended up just sitting beside the others, trying to inconspicuously revive my feet and fingers. After about twenty minutes I felt human again, and we went out to enjoy the ice sculptures.

The evening after that point ended up being really good.

 We ran around taking pictures, marveling at buildings, and generally trying not to fall down. There were slides in lots of the structures so of course we had to go on every one, twice. By sliding down on my side I ended up getting snow down my shoe and within five minutes, it was as if I had a dead leg. My right foot was so cold it didn't even hurt, and it made an odd thumping noise when I walked on it so I felt like a pirate.

After the Ice show we went to see the Saint Sophia Cathedral. Remember how I said Harbin has a lot of Russian influence? Well I think Sophia’s cathedral epitomizes that. It’s a former Russian Orthodox Church towering in the middle of a Chinese city. I thought it was beautiful, especially at night with all the lights shining and with classical music softly playing in the background.

I love visiting churches and seeing how they’re built and all the details that go into them. The same goes for Monasteries and Temples. They all seem to signify the devotion of people who practice the religion, and a rare outer showing of something so personal.

Across from the cathedral was a restaurant where we had a delicious meal. It wasn't at this restaurant, but at a similar setting during the trip, where I accidentally became the focus of attention.

 What happened was at the beginning of the meal I had put my heavy backpack onto the back of my chair instead of the ground, I was halfway through dinner without anything happening, and was blissfully unaware of the impending danger this would caused.  At one point, most likely going for thirds because greed will always get you in the end, I stood up to take from a plate slightly out of my reach. As I did this my chair started to slowly tip backwards...

I finished piling my bowl of rice with food, and just as I went to sit down the entire chair toppled over. Everyone burst out laughing, and the waiters didn't know whether to help me or just stare.

Now I’d realized something was slightly off, but couldn't put my finger on it until I found myself under the table. Of course no one at my table tried to warn me, and it all happened within a minute. One moment I was there, and the next I had disappeared, probably looking for a pot of gold. I at least take solace in the fact that they said they’d never seen such a graceful fall before; I have my moments.   

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